February 5, 2012

All the dirty details...

We've had our trash-can compost system up and running for just about a year now. It does a really good job, but we've realized that a finishing spot might be just what our composting system needs. A plan has been in the works for awhile now to build a pallet compost bin just like this one that John and Sherry made.

We're still going to use the garbage can compost bin (not the prettiest lookin' thing, but it sure works!) to collect all of our compostable materials initially. It gets pretty hot inside, and can cook all the weed seeds and bacteria away. When we've deemed it "ready", we'll finish each batch of compost in the new pallet compost bin which we've located in the sunny back corner of the garden. I'm looking forward to both bins being so accessible while we're out working in the garden, because that will help us use them to their full potential.

It seems really funny to be writing this post in February. Wrong in some sort of way. Any normal year our compost would have stopped "cooking" months ago, and wouldn't resume again for several more months. I'm pretty sure this year has been warm enough that things are still breaking down, just at a slower rate. That makes now the perfect time to expand our composting system.

Jake constructed the pallet composter so that the shorter front piece and two side pieces are screwed together. We left the back piece separate on purpose. The idea is that when it comes time to use the finished compost we can pull the front and sides away and rake it right out of the bin and into the garden. If we had screwed all four sides together we would have had to pick the whole frame up off the entire pile of compost. I was against that plan from the start because pallets are heavy!

Since our winter has been so mild, I ended up just leaving our row cover up all season. We planted two kale plants last fall that never finished up in time. They're still green, and mostly happy now in the middle of February thanks to the protection the row cover provides. We should get an early spring crop out of them. I already know I'll be making kale chips :)

Right after we wrapped up this project I happened to be browsing a Gardeners Supply magazine. They sell a similar (albeit slightly nicer version) for $99 which made me extra thankful that ours was free! :)


  1. Nice! We tried the pallet system for a bit, then went to the trash can compost system and now just have a pile on the ground. Stuff continues to break down, so I guess it is working.

  2. I'm glad to hear others have tried the pallet system! So far so good. I am hoping the pallet system in combo with the trash can will work nicely for us.

  3. Dropping by from the UFHC to say hi and check out your February challenge. I'm with you, building with free and recycled materials is the best.


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